Drew Nicholson used a home course advantage to propel himself to victory the inaugural Surrey International World Music Marathon on Sunday.
Nicholson won his first-ever full marathon under sunny skies with cool autumn temperatures in a time of two hours, 36 minutes and 19 seconds. The win comes after a 10th place finish at the BMO Vancouver Marathon in early May, followed by a ninth place finish at the Scotia Bank Half Marathon in late June.
In total, 236 runners took part in the full marathon course. Overall, more than 1,500 registered for the Surrey World International Music Marathon.
The win was especially sweet for the Surrey runner, as he battled through a number of injuries over the course of the summer. Nicholson, 28, won the event despite suffering an achilles injury in early July followed closely by a knee injury in a cycling accident.
"This is great, it's like a dream come true," said an exhausted but elated Nicholson shortly after crossing the finish line. "I was born and raised in Surrey, so to win here is awesome."
Nicholson's winning time also shaved more than three seconds of his personal best time. While he said he was shooting for a time of 2: 35, he wasn't about to complain about his time.
"I was in a lot of pain in the last few kilometres, it was tough. My lungs were burning but this is worth it," said Nicholson, who plans on taking the upcoming week off work to recuperate.
Nicholson's winning time gives him an exemption into next year's Boston Marathon, the oldest continuously run marathon in the world. Despite qualifying, Nicholson said his goal is to run the Chicago Marathon in 2013 and leave the prestigious Boston race to 2014.
Jeremy Waters of Coquitlam finished second overall with a time of 2: 47: 27 while Chris Barth of White Rock rounded out the top three in a time of 2: 50: 27.
On the women's side, Langley's Kendra Braun was the top finisher with a time of 3: 04: 10. Tracy Kuehn, a former Surrey resident now living in Langley, was second with a time of 3: 21: 35 while Surrey's Tanya Zarin rounded out the women's top three with a clocking of 3: 27: 07.
It was a Vancouver sweep on the men's side in the half marathon, as Nicholas Browne paced himself to top spot with a time of 1: 12: 07, ahead of Andrew Powell at 1: 18: 51 and Jordan Back at 1: 19: 13. In the women's race, Rika Hatachi won top spot, finishing with a time of 1: 27: 18. Delta's Courtney McEwan finished second in 1: 30: 37 while New Westminster's Vanessa Woznow was third in a time of 1: 32: 40.
While it may have been the shortest competitive distance run on Sunday, the five-kilometre loop drew the biggest crowd. Everyone was lined up to see 101-year-old Fauja Singh of the U.K. take part in the event.
Lined up beside Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, the energetic Singh waved his hands to the crowd before the start of the race. The centurian finished his race in just under 36 minutes.